Nigel Hastilow: How could the Telford child sex abuse scandal happen?
Amid calls for an inquiry into alleged child sexual exploitation in Telford, Nigel Hastilow asks did the fear of being branded 'racist' play its part?
Granted, it may be hundreds of abused young girls in Telford rather than the thousands alleged in some quarters.
Perhaps the child sexual exploitation in the town is not quite on the same scale as, say, Rotherham, where 1,510 white teenagers were passed around among older British-Pakistani taxi drivers.
Perhaps Telford doesn’t beat Rotherham as the worst child sex abuse scandal this country has ever known.
Or perhaps it does.
Either way, you have to ask how it is possible for such terrible things to go on, day after day and year after year, under our very noses.
What are the police for if it isn’t to protect the public in general and vulnerable young girls in particular?
You might also ask what their parents were thinking of, always assuming their parents were paying any attention. And if they weren’t, what was the local authority doing when it supposedly cared for these kids?
One answer is sadly obvious. The police and the council were not prepared to investigate because they were terrified of being thought racist.
The local Conservative MP Lucy Allan is among those calling for a Rotherham-style inquiry into the scandal. The council also supports the idea of having an inquiry, although this is all, as usual, far too late for the victims.
Inquiries may protect young women from abuse in the future but they won’t do anything for the dozens, or hundreds, whose lives have already been wrecked by the failure of the authorities to act on warnings they received over the years.
As always, if and when an inquiry drags itself into action and ultimately produces a report long after the issue has disappeared from the headlines, some police officer will pontificate that ‘lessons have been learned’.
It’s what they always say and it’s always nonsense. They never actually learn anything. The scandals go on because of the institutional multi-culturalism ‘the authorities’ suffer from.
They are so terrified of singling out one group of people as the perpetrators of this unspeakable crime they would rather look the other way.
Even now, the police response is to play down the scandal.
Superintendent Tom Harding of West Mercia Police says his officers are working with ‘approximately 46 young people’ who were victims of child sexual exploitation or may be considered at risk.
He adds: ‘Therefore, I significantly dispute the 1,000-plus figure, and do feel it is sensationalised.
‘Read the headlines, read the reports. What are they actually discussing? They’re discussing cases from 20 or 30 years ago, offending back in the 1990s.’
Oh well that’s alright then. This all happened a few decades ago. Nothing to see here. Move along there, move along.
And yet the local MP says she has been ‘inundated’ with emails from people claiming they have been exploited.
As a friend who lives in Telford says of concerns raised with the police two years ago: ‘We demanded action on these child-grooming gangs a while back.
"The police and the Police and Crime Commissioner requested a meeting and told us they were dealing with it. The problem was over-reporting and not significant.’
The uncomfortable truth is that some men of Pakistani origin look on young white girls as easy meat.
It’s obviously a dangerous and difficult subject, partly because not all the criminals are Muslim and some of the victims are not white.
But there is no escaping the dominance of one easily-identifiable group among the criminals and another equally easy-to-identify group among the victims.
Had the criminals not been such a homogeneous group, then perhaps the authorities would have taken people’s concerns more seriously and done something about them.
As it is, they took the path of least resistance, afraid of being accused of that most heinous of crimes, racism.